Pallet Coffee Table Project

Carpentry and woodworking have been something that both sides of my family have a history in; my mother’s father was a carpenter for many years and my fathers grandfather built furniture we still use around the house. My dad taught me all manner of practical stuff like replacing a supporting beam on our front porch but his favorite saying has always been “Well…it works. And we’re not building a piano here”.

So, what I’ve wanted to do is take my less than piano skills and make something that actually looked nice; I’m by no means skilled in any form of woodworking, but I ran across a few projects that were cheap and looked amazing. http://www.made.com had a pallet coffee table (for the princely sum of $325) that looked amazing but honestly wasn’t anything more than a normal looking pallet sanded down and stained. I started doing a little Google-fu and found there were many different projects that people had used nothing but pallets as material. So I called my uncle for some pallets, borrowed a reciprocating saw from my other uncle, broke down all three of the pallets and got to work.

First, I started with what pieces the pallet left me with after broken down. I loved the notched bottom pieces of the pallets (a total of 6 pieces) and decided I would use those as the main beams and would line up the rest of the planks flush as possible against one another and nail them in place. 18″ seemed like a good width and I cut down the planks from around 40″ to 18″.

Since I did all sawing by hand, not all the cuts were perfect. To get around this, I lined up the machine cut ends with the beams on one side and cut a little wide so that I only had to be precise with 2 boards; one at each end of the beam. Then, all I had to do was follow down the beam that had the planks hanging over and cut them down to flush. (Not shown in this picture is I put a plank on either end to cover the gap in between the beams)

The base was constructed in the same method as the table top with the addition of 4x4s as the supports. I didn’t want any gaps for things to fall through, so I covered all the area in between the 4x4s with planks. If you’ll notice, I also have a shim on top of one of the 4x4s; since I also cut these by hand, I messed up a little on one and had to bring it back to level. It will be well hidden once the top goes on.

Here it is with the top put on the stand, and the 4x4s completely covered by some planks so it will stain evenly. From here, it’s just a lot of sanding and then the staining

And, ta-da, the finished product!

At this point, I would like to thank Charles M. Wacker and Kevin Kok Vui Lai who have the patent on the random orbital sander; without them, I’d still be sanding this table. I endued up sanding the base and sides with 22o grit which was smooth enough and the top with 320grit which made it very smooth. Then, I got the bright idea to try 600grit automotive sandpaper. The results are obvious from the glare in the first picture; it’s as smooth as glass and nearly as reflective at certain angles. I stained the entire table using Minwax Red Mahogany stain and I think it turned out rather epic. I think my first foray in wood working went well, and I’ll be trying some more pallet projects in the near future.

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